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Cleveland Indians fall 4-3 to White Sox despite heroic first inning sac bunt

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Even the best tactics fail sometimes.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Indians 3, White Sox 4

Box Score

Indians fall to 73-74

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There are not many times when a Major League Baseball game is over in the first inning, but such a thing almost happened tonight. Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis hit a double to leadoff the game, then Francisco Lindor did the only logical thing to do in the first inning of a game with no outs and a runner on second; he bunted.

I mean, the bunt is the obvious play here. Maybe you have not scoured the MLB rulebook like I, Lindor, and Tito have, but if you score a run off a sac bunt in the first inning, you automatically win the game. It is the baseball equivalent of catching the golden snitch, and you don’t even need to be riding a flying broom when you do it. If you don’t believe me, check the rulebook, it’s right there in Chapter WhyIsLindorStillBunting, Section PleaseJustKillMeNowAndReleaseMeFromThisHell.

No, of course, bunting in the first inning with no outs is stupid, and Indians Twitter did me proud by instantly reacting negatively to it. There was a time when the reception to a patented Lindor bunt would be about 50/50 on social media, but pretty much everyone besides Lindor/Tito realizes it’s an idiotic move at this point. Worse yet, the Tribe ended up losing by one run, as you probably already know.

August Fagerstrom -- Indians beat writer and former FanGraphs writer -- seemingly had his tweets prepared for the bunt and there’s no way I could vent my frustration better than he succinctly did in two tweetst:

Not to harp on Lindor too much, but he had a pretty terrible game. If he wants to keep up the narrative of him "carrying the team into the playoffs" that mainstream writers are surely going to pound to the ground if a run does happen, he’ll need to not have nights like this. His first error (the only one scored as an error, mind you), came in the fourth inning when he attempted to throw out a charging Jose Abreu at second base. While Lindor’s scoop and throw came with the same grace and silky smooth transition we have seen dozens of times this season, the throw itself was just off enough to pull Kipnis off the bag to where he had to reach over Abreau.

While it was not scored as anything negative, Lindor did fail to make a routine double play in the sixth when he bobbled an easy toss from Carlos Carrasco. Instead of catching, tagging, throwing to first, and ending the inning, Lindor dropped it and Micah Johnson trotted home.

I’m all for a call helping the Tribe, but I’m still not entirely convinced he had enough control of the ball for it to be an out. If anything, it looked like he had enough control to the point that, had he caught the ball falling out of his glove and made the throw to first, both runners would have been out. Either way, the call went simply as a fielder’s choice to the pitcher, instead of an error on Lindor. Because errors do not make any sense.

In the sea of despair that was this game, Trevor Bauer coming in for his first relief appearance was fun at least. Bauer blew by his first batter in three straight pitches and did not have much trouble with the next three (minus one hard-hit ball from Jose Abreu). His velocity was in the low- to mid-90s, but his offspeed pitches had some extra bite to them. Not that I want to see Trevor permanently pitching out of the bullpen, but maybe a few stints will be good for him in the long run. Who knows, it world for Cookie.

The majority of Tribe batters were helpless against Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon. Only three strikeouts in the game, but other than a pair of doubles from Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis nothing was hit very hard at all. A sacrifice fly from Yan Gomes in the fourth was the team's only run until the ninth inning rally that never was. Credit to Rodon of course for pitching such a great game, but with so much on the line right now the Indians looked deflated. Offensively, defensively, everythingely; just absolutely deflated. Even Carrasco collapsed pretty quickly after three great innings before Francona went switch happy with eight relievers pitching in the final four frames.

As if eight innings of futility was not enough to make you hate the game of baseball for a night, this particular one ended on a pickoff at first. Following a potential rally courtesy of a Chris Johnson two-run home run, Abraham Almonte got a little too greedy at first base... and got picked off. Then somewhere in downtown Cleveland fireworks went off. I wish I was making this up.

Win Expectancy Chart


Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call

Game Thread

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15 Jay 4
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